The dawn of artificial intelligence is upon us. Innovation is presently ‘the’ buzz word, with some organisations prepared to spend millions to be the first to harness its benefits. Whilst the desire for improved process automation and cost-effective solutions is not confined to the health sector, there is arguably a greater air of desperation for it within health and social care given the increasing demand for services and increasing costs of providing them.
The well documented systemic pressures often lead to incidents. Whilst some incidents are unavoidable, hindsight allows us to determine that others could have been avoided. Once an incident has occurred, a claim can sometimes ensue. A single claim can have a devastating effect, through reputational damage and on insurance premiums.
There are tried and tested methods to aid with claim mitigation; detailed risk assessments and care plans, good documentation and training. Training, for the unfortunate employee, more often than not, is likely to mean death by PowerPoint, followed by a signature on a register, a promise to confirm that they understood all that was delivered (and stayed awake during it).
Whilst opportunity lies ahead, there is existing technology which may be being overlooked, at least by the masses. Most of us perceive virtual reality to be something confined to a console game. The reality is very different, the aviation industry for example has been training pilots in this way for years using flight simulators. However, it is only recently that the health and social care sector has considered the benefits.
Virtual reality and simulators can now offer the employee a very different and immersive experience. Rather than another slide deck, the employee can (virtually) witness a patient with cognitive difficulties exhibiting emotional behaviour.
We know that patients and service users with lived experience are an attractive proposition for employers. The next best thing may be technology which allows any employee to see and feel what it may be like for a patient suffering with dementia or autism.
I have experienced the training (thanks to Training 2 Care UK Ltd). I was invited to wear spiked insoles and gloves, before putting on headphones and sunglasses, all intended to mimic common conditions for dementia sufferers (such as peripheral neuropathy and macular degeneration), dulling the senses and creating disorientation. I found the experience quite frightening, but far more insightful than the most entertaining hour-long lecture. When social care providers train employees in this way, it is likely to result in greater understanding, more empathy and appreciation of what patients may be experiencing.
There are many companies which now offer this experience, meaning organisations do not have to invest heavily in the technology themselves. Some NHS trusts, care homes and domiciliary care organisations are already making use of these tools. The majority however continue to resort to more familiar educational methods, whether because of time constraints or through lack of knowledge of what current technology can offer.
Human error cannot be eliminated from the workplace in its entirety. Training is intended to benefit the development and capabilities of the individual member of staff and it therefore stands to reason that, the better the training, the less incidents which occur and fewer the number of claims which will be received.
For further information and support (including interactive training sessions), get in touch.
For further information, please contact:
Siôn Davies, Hill Dickinson